Despite the mostly feel-good final two months of the Yankees’ season, Brian Cashman is under no illusion the team is close to where it wants and has to be.
“We’re going to need, still, a lot of things,” the general manager said Wednesday during his 53-minute post mortem session with reporters at Yankee Stadium. “There’s more work to be done.”
The question is how to do it, and Cashman mostly advised against expecting bombshell trades or signings this offseason.
Not that he ruled them out. It is too soon to tell what opportunities will arise come late autumn and winter. But the emphasis remains on youth and development — and payroll discipline.
That is particularly true among the position players, where Cashman hopes improvement comes from within.
“I think there will be some hesitancy to forego giving the kids a chance to take it,” he said, while acknowledging that that risks them not doing so. “That would be the way we’d like to approach this going into spring training next year: Let the kids get a shot at it.”
Cashman called the 2016 Yankees a “bad offensive team.”
The pitching staff, on the other hand, most likely will require help from outside the current roster, including more depth for both the rotation and bullpen. But there, too, Cashman is not about to part with multiple prospects to go for a big, expensive name such as the White Sox’s Chris Sale.
“I would be hard-pressed to do that,” he said, adding such a deal would make sense for a team one piece away rather than many. “There’s not a flaw [on the roster], there’s flaws . . . I think that would be a dangerous approach.”
As things currently stand, Cashman said the biggest positional competitions figure to be at first base between Tyler Austin and Greg Bird and in rightfield among Aaron Judge, Austin, Rob Refsnyder and Aaron Hicks.
Gary Sanchez, not surprisingly, will enter spring training as the starting catcher. Cashman said he still sees a role for Brian McCann, though, both as a complementary catcher and a designated hitter.
But there is certain to be a trade market for McCann — who has a no-trade clause in his contract — and the GM will listen carefully, especially given how many teams are desperate for upgrades at that position.
The cheapest, easiest way to improve the rotation would be for 22-year-old Luis Severino to bounce back from a disappointing season. Cashman said he is hopeful but cannot count on it.
“If you’re a student you go back and do your homework to brush up for your test so you can master the next test,” he said. “He was unable to do that from the starting spot all year long.”
Cashman said CC Sabathia will have “routine” surgery to “clean out” his right knee in the next week.
As of now, Dellin Betances remains the closer, but Cashman left open the notion of adding someone for a one-two bullpen punch.
Cashman and manager Joe Girardi both will be in the final years of their contracts in 2017; Cashman said he expected the team to adhere to its past policy of not extending a manager before his deal expires.
Overall, Cashman described 2016 as “a series of twists and turns” and “a mixed bag.”
He certainly had no regrets about the trade deadline moves that jump-started the youth movement, a change in the team’s usual approach that largely was embraced by fans.
“I think we have very educated fans,” Cashman said when asked whether he is surprised by how positive the vibe has been for a non-playoff season. “They’re very sophisticated . . . I’m not surprised by it, because I felt the same way: This is the time we need to do certain things we’ve never had to do.
“The future’s brighter because of it.”